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Talking politics

Rod McKenzie Rod McKenzie | 14:35 UK time, Thursday, 31 July 2008

Grey clouds - strong winds - lashing rain - brilliant sunshine. The weather in Newquay on Tuesday was the usual varied English seaside mix that leaves us wondering whether to go for the shorts or the brolly.

Radio 1 logoBut as David Cameron strolled into the beachside bar on Fistral Beach to meet a panel of Radio 1 and 1Xtra listeners - the sunshine burst through, apparently matching his mood as Labour's leadership woes dominate the headlines.

But this encounter was about real people - with real problems and questions: not the tea room plotting and chatter of Westminster. That can dampen anyone's mood.

David Cameron being interviewed by Radio 1 listernersWe've always found in the years that we've been doing political interviews, getting real people to ask the questions puts the politicians on the spot in a way professional interviewers and journalists often can't.

Was he "borderline smug" as 29-year-old single mum Lauren Evans wondered? What's he going to do about underage drinking? - wondered 14-year-old Laura Barritt. Polish immigration in the building trade was what was on the mind of 26-year-old labourer Ross McKay while Shevell Bachelor was worried about urban knife crime.

You can read his answers and read our political reporter Rajini Vaidyanathan's account account.

There's also a film to watch. You may also have seen Rajini's film on Wednesday night's Newsnight on BBC2.

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When it was all over - our panel - and some of our millions of listeners had their say via interview, text or online comment.

After reading them I was left with two clear observations. Those who were present thought Cameron was likeable and impressive, but had work to do to convince people to vote positively for the Conservatives.

My second impression from listeners who weren't there was that our listener panel nailed the key issues facing young Britain but not yet all the answers they expect to hear.

Winning over the politically sceptical or disengaged is a mountain for the Conservatives -and, to be fair, all parties - to climb.


  • Comment number 1.

    You should have asked me what cameron would say. The simple answer is 'whatever the people want him to say'

  • Comment number 2.

    Mr Cameron potentially had my vote until he lazily equated fat people with knife criminals nad drug addicts as indicative of his 'broken society' and a social problem to be tackled, no doubt through more of the same expensive, illiberal and ultimately futile legislative interventions we've become all to familiar with from the current lot. With that comment he demonstrated his commitment to the politics of populism and scapegoating easy targets in lieu of political courage, and in doing so ensured I would never vote for his Tory party.

    Knife crime kills people, drug addicts ruin their own lives and those around them as well as contributing to crime, fat people hurt no-one (unless you believe the cost to the NHS argument, in which case we're all guilty of contributing to the 'broken society'; where does one draw the line?). My body is not State property and my weight is no-one's business but my own. Just because the Tories have progressed in the last couple of decades from picking on those considered 'not to blame' for their situation (gay people, BME groups, single parents) to those society deems 'morally reprehensible' does not make them any less of a 'nasty party' in 2008.

  • Comment number 3.

    With Labour in its mid-term leadership doldrums, the Conservatives are trying to position themselves in the driving seat. But David Cameron is in for a surprise. Dislodging Labour will not be easy at all. These are just mid-term blues and Labour could still come out on top. Of course Gordon will have to reinvent himself and energise the rank and file of the Labour Party with winnable policies. Above all making the United Kingdom a safer nation respected and loved in the world is no mean task. Of course the economy will take centre stage. Gordon has all the experience in the world when it comes to the economy and he should be able to prescribe practical solutions to make the UK economy resilient again. So do not discount the 'Iron Chancellor'. Labour's resurgence may not be too far away!

  • Comment number 4.

    I saw this on TV and thought it was vey good. It was worth putting on TV as well, for those of us who are no longer regular Radio 1 listeners (and I felt embarassingly old when I went to a Radio 1 roadshow in Newquay in the mid-1990's!).

    Mostly, the interviewing panel impressed me as much as Cameron but the odd one was exasperatingly sceptical, even after admitting that he could find no fault with what he had heard.

    It made me realise that I could never be more than an armchair politician: I simply wouln't have the patience with the electors!

  • Comment number 5.

    Gordon and Dave on holiday.

    Compare and contrast.

    In touch?


    A leader?

    A follower?

  • Comment number 6.

    Why did your presenter talk to the audience as if they were seven year olds?

  • Comment number 7.

    To HAYDON 02 Aug

    The presenters talk to the audience as seven year olds because that is their opinion of them.

    For some time now they have been hammering drums behind the NEWS and similar programs because they think that they can brainwash us idiots.

  • Comment number 8.

    What has 'being likeable and impressive' got to do with politics and policy albeit even these Radio I participant listeners (presumably carefully selected) are aware Cameron hasn't got anything of the latter that differs significantly from New Labour!

    Whose next for the Radio 1 seaside show. Got to be David Milliband judging by the blanket coverage he's getting simply because of his leadership 'innuendo's' made in his Guardian article.

  • Comment number 9.

    "brainwash us idiots."

    Jim, I do not think it is brainwashing, simply a lack of broadcasting technique.

    The producer/director is more at blame than her.

    The standard of broadcasting on many channels in the UK has rapidly deteriorated in the past five years.

  • Comment number 10.

    Re HAYDON 3/8/08

    I will settle for one or the other.

    There is no doubt that the standard of broadcasting has deteriorated. Look at what has happened to the PROMS over the last few years and particularly this year: a disaster!

    The question now is how to get some changes made. These blogs do not bring any useful action from the BBC. They are mainly a device for blowing off steam.

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    I have to agree with comments about the decline in the standards of production and journalism within the BBC during the past decade or so. We find that even with seasoned presenters who seem confrontational instead of teasing the truth out of people. Politicians will always say what they plan to say - that is why their party puts them on the media in the first place - and it is the purpose of a good interviewer to get underneath that. Ordinary people answer from the heart and when confronted with questions about how they got to believe what they do are not prepared. To answer such a question in no time at all when their brain is a complex mesh of experience is unrealistic.

    Hence these programs are simply so much hot air. Cameron says his bit and the people say theirs. Did either listen to the other? Did the presenters actually listen and learn?

    We really need some polemic in politics instead of the current anaemic PC brand so beloved by the BBC.

  • Comment number 13.

    Modern Talking was a German pop music duo consisting of composer/producer Dieter Bohlen and singer Thomas Anders. Genre-wise they were often classified under euro disco. By sales, it is the single most successful pop group in Germany.

  • Comment number 14.

    #5 "Gordon and Dave on holiday.

    Compare and contrast.

    In touch?


    A leader?

    A follower?"

    Comparing them I'd say that Gordon IS having a holiday, whereas Web-Cameron is doing some party political PR work. Frankly if anyone needs a break its Gordon... hopefully he comes back a little more relaxed and on the ball.

  • Comment number 15.

    "It was important for us that there be a clear voice speaking out against the Chinese government's abuse of human rights," the Rev. Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition in Washington, told AP by telephone afterward.

    They erected a banner in front of communist strongman Mao Zedong's mausoleum that said "Christ is King" and knelt and prayed in Tiananmen Square.

    Obviously, they are not shot as they angrily predicted earlier.

  • Comment number 16.

    I am encouraging a movement of private individuals to stand at the next elections in every constituency to attempt to make the parliamentarians take notice and listen to the public,
    Each individual will pay the deposit and advertising required from their own pocket.
    The main mandate is for common sense politics, but naturally local issues will be included and this is down to the individual.
    The candidates concerned want to see Britain return to its former place in the world being a place of honour, and respect.
    We are concerned about the growing movement towards the BNP and other radical groups, and wish to present a group of respectable individuals to the electorate that will put Britain first and foremost on every public decison. we have launched a web site on and the membership is growing slowly.
    We would be happy to sit on any programme or stage to present our views and get the public aware of the movement.
    There is great concern amongst the public at large about the future of this country and in particular the future for their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.


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